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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7657

Sleep Apnoea

Dear Mrs Wicks

Thank you for your letter of 5 December 2017 regarding petition number EN0383.

I appreciate the time you have taken to bring this matter to my attention. I regret the delay in responding. Your letter identifies the request of the petition as being:

That all Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients have defined pathways at a Commonwealth level to access medically appropriate testing and funding for all sleep apnea equipment at no cost to themselves and that regardless of disabilities, all testing accommodates full medical and accessibility needs of each individual.

Receipt of DSP does not specifically qualify a person for defined pathways to any medical treatment or funding and there are no plans to change this arrangement. The purpose of DSP is to provide income support to people with a permanent disability who are unable to support themselves through work.

The health system supports people with disability and health conditions to access affordable, high quality medical, pharmaceutical and hospital services. Medicare funds the tests and procedures for the diagnosis and possible treatment of sleep apnoea. It does not fund the cost of medical aids and appliances associated with relieving the symptoms of the condition.

State and territory governments have responsibility for operating aids and appliances programs to assist residents with the cost and/or provision of appropriate equipment, aids and appliances in the community setting. Each state and territory determines its priorities and allocates funds for aids and appliances between the many competing areas of government health spending.

Benefits may also be available through private health insurance 'extras' cover. Each health fund determines the services and equipment they cover, with the aim of keeping their policies affordable.

In addition, the Commonwealth Government provides an Essential Medical Equipment Payment (EMEP). EMEP is a yearly payment of $154, per piece of eligible equipment, made to eligible Australians who experience additional increases in home energy costs as a result of the need to operate essential medical equipment in their home, or additional heating or cooling, to manage their disability or medical condition.

To qualify for an EMEP, a person must be using one of the pieces of medical equipment specified in the Social Security (Essential Medical Equipment Payment — Essential Medical Equipment) Specification 2012 (the Specification). The Specification was developed in consultation with state and territory governments and various peak medical and welfare organisations. The guiding principle for inclusion in the Specification was that equipment listed must be essential for sustaining life. The Specification includes the following equipment specifically related to sleep apnoea:

infant apnoea monitor — medically prescribed

positive airways pressure device.

A person with sleep apnoea who requires use of a continuous positive airways pressure (CPAP) machine will qualify for EMEP as this piece of equipment is on the list. However, sleep apnoea monitors for adults are only a warning system and for adults is not considered essential life support equipment.

The list specifically includes an infant apnoea monitor when prescribed by a medical practitioner following apnoeic episodes. This is intended for children under certain conditions such as a history of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in the family.

Thank you again for raising this matter with me. I hope this information is of assistance.

Yours sincerely

from the Minister for Social Services, Mr Tehan